present tenses: introduction

‘Present tenses’ are used to talk about several different kinds of time.

  • Now, at this exact moment
  • Around now
  • ‘General time’ — at any time, all the time, not just around now
    When we talk about time ‘around now’, we usually use the ‘present progressive tense’ (for example, I’m going, I’m reading). In other cases, we usually use the ‘simple present’ tense (for example I go, I read). For details, see the next two sections.
    We use a present perfect tense, not a present tense, to say how long something has been going on.
      I’ve known her since 1960. (NOT I know her . . .)
      I’ve been learning English for three years. (NOT I’m learning . . .)